I overheard a conversation of my daughter with her eleven years old friend. My daughter wanted them to dance. “I can’t dance”, her friend said. My daughter answered: “come on, just dance”. This kick-started some thoughts in my head about how we stop learning in our professional lives. We can learn so much from kids, like on win-win negotiation in a previous post.

How could my daughter’s friend declare she couldn’t dance? Should she have taken some courses before? Did she lack certification? Was dancing such a big hurdle, requiring a long learning process, to overcome? If she “decides” or “accepts” she can’t dance at eleven, how will she be at sixteen?

Be receptive

In every learning process, receptiveness for new information is a sine qua non. When learning a language, in the beginning, you need to catch some words in an ocean of sounds. Later on, when you already have some vocabulary, it becomes important to get a good feel for expressions, combinations, ordering etc. If you are not “open for” / “doing your best” to catch the building blocks of a language, you will never progress. Some people manage to live for years in a foreign country and never learn the local language!

Overcome fear

Certain subjects have a “fear factor”, a “psychological barrier” attached to them. This pushes people to swiftly stop learning. In the world of contract management, I have insurance or tax issues or even certain general legal concepts (like indemnities) in mind. Many people think “that’s not for me”. And that’s enough. It will never be. They simply stop learning.

Be humble

Then you have the binary subjects. Like the art of negotiation, with two main categories:

  • Some people are over-convinced. They consider themselves born negotiators. The masters of negotiation!
  • And other people think they are not good at it anyway. So they avoid it altogether, leaving it to some else.

Both attitudes are wrong because they inhibit learning. The first because “Why learn? When you know it all…”. The second “Why learn if you’ll never be good at it?” Top negotiators are humble. They know the mistakes they made in the past. They watch others to learn from them. They think and read about it.

Stopping to “stop learning”

Hand writing never stop learning on a white board.
Hand writing never stop learning on a white board

Maradona didn’t need training. But for all the others… Christiano Ronaldo is (maybe) the best because, as all his teammates testify, he tries harder.

We all need to STOP “stop learning”. There shouldn’t be a subject that we cancel out of our brain and our memory. Sometimes fast, sometimes slowly. But, always, we need to grasp some building blocks of knowledge, also when it comes to insurance, tax and indemnities!

Good luck with it! Keep up that attitude.

With a little help from a friend

And if you need some help: the AfiTaC blog is there to stimulate reflection and learning.

Still, the very best facilitator is coaching. A coach will show you where you have stopped learning, will lift you over some hurdles, will talk about your (adverse) learning behavior and guide you.

If you want to be successful in contract management, or in life, never ever accept that you stop learning … until your last day.

Categories: afitac blog

Jan Bouckaert

Jan Bouckaert is a FIDIC Certified Adjudicator (President's list) with 25 years of worldwide experience in negotiation of complex construction, renewable energy, power and infrastructure projects. He is also specialized in contract management, project controls and alternative dispute resolution. During Jan’s career path, he lived in France, Belgium, Egypt, India and Portugal and worked for GE Renewable Energy, Alstom Hydro, Besix/Six Construct. He is a Civil Engineer from the University of Leuven (Belgium) and has an MBA from ISEG (Portugal). He speaks fluently English, French, Portuguese and Dutch. Jan is the founder of AfiTaC, a company giving advice on international tenders and contracts. Be welcome to connect on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/afitac/

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